When Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver came out many months ago now, the English ROMs (a copy of a game playable on a computer with the aid of an emulator) were everywhere about a week before you could buy a physical copy of the game in the United States. Someone I knew was playing on said ROMs. My best girlfriend and I were determined not to give in to the temptation of playing the highly anticipated game before we could have our physical copies.
This sort of story isn’t odd today. Games, anime, software, music… it’s all available for download for free in tons of corners of the internet. And thousands and thousands of people download it for free every day. And when that content is downloaded for free, the industry suffers.
People say it doesn’t make that much of a difference — that the downloads are a drop in the bucket for these giant celebrities and whatnot. Well, this might be a decent argument for huge musical artists or even American movie stars, but that argument doesn’t hold any water when it comes to anime and gaming — especially anime and tabletop RPGs. The people who work in these industries don’t make much money. In fact, most animators in Japan make barely enough to get by. Writers for tabletop RPGs are often freelancers, and even those that aren’t don’t make a ton of money. These people are working very hard every day to make these things gamers and otaku consume.
When one person doesn’t pay for that product, it doesn’t make that much of a difference. But when tons and tons of people stop paying for the products, the industry starts to fall apart. The anime industry in America today is much smaller and crippled compared to where it was ten years ago at the start of the new millennium. Many licencing companies in America have shut down. Manga licencing companies are also shutting down at an alarming rate, and those that remain are cutting down on their titles to help stem off losses.
Now, I know I’m talking a lot about anime, but that’s because the results of pirating are so readily seen in that industry. But if this trend continues in the gaming industry as well, similar results will start showing. The cracks will become ravines, and the industry will crumble.
If the industry crumbles, there won’t be new games or anime for you to consume. Period.
I hear lots of excuses for why people don’t pay for their anime or games. I took care of the “it doesn’t really hurt anyone” above. But I also hear “it’s too expensive” a lot as well.
If that’s the case, then you need to choose where you’re supporting wisely. If you can’t afford every new game that comes out in a month, choose the one that’s most important to you and buy that.
In fact, here’s a list of ways to afford your gaming or anime habits legally:
- Purchase a Gamefly account. For about $20 a month, you can play as many games as you want. They mail the games out to you much like Netflix does with movies. You can play as many games for $20 as you can play during the month. If you find a game you really like, you can buy it through Gamefly.
- Speaking of, Purchase a Netflix account. Netflix has a SURPRISING amount of anime, and with the Instant Stream features, you can watch some on your computer or TV (if you have an Xbox or other way to stream Netflix to your TV) just as fast as if you were illegally streaming online.
- Buy used games. Used games often come at a fraction of the cost, and are just as good. If you can wait a little bit for the new title, or you’re looking for a game that’s a bit older, Used or Pre-owned is a great way to go.
- Borrow from friends. If you have gamer friends or friends who watch anime, share the wealth. You can talk it over and if there are a couple games coming out you really want, each of you can buy one of them. After all, it’s hard to play two games at once. If you want to watch a new series of anime, talk to your friends first and see what they can lend you before you head to the internet to stream or torrent.
- Look for discounts online. There are lots of online retailers (Like eBay, Amazon, and RightStuff!) that sell anime for very reasonable prices.
- Purchase legal PDFs. If you can’t shell out for a physical hardcover copy of a tabletop RPG book, you can find legal PDFs for purchase on websites like Drive-Through Gaming.
- Watch anime through Legal streams, such as on CrunchyRoll and Funimation.
But, you may be asking, is it ever okay to download something for free? In my opinion, sometimes it is okay. For instance. I own a Nintendo64 and a copy of Ocarina of Time. However, I can’t take those things with me everywhere I go. So I also have an N64 emulator and Ocarina of Time on my computer. (It’s fun to be able to play while I’m waiting for class to start or something.) Also, if you own a hardcover copy of a gaming book, I also don’t see anything wrong with also having PDF copies, so long as you own the physical media. Same goes for anime — if you have legally purchased the DVDs, it’s okay to have the files on your computer in addition to on the DVDs at home.
Fansubbing is also alright, to an extent. When an anime is released in Japan and hasn’t been licensed in the United States yet, fansubbing can help to create an active fanbase in America, which shows American licensing companies that the anime is popular enough to do well in the states. The ultimate goal of fabsubs should be to get the anime licensed in America, not to cripple the money those companies are trying to make to recoop the fees they incurred through the licensing process.
The important thing for fansubbing is to take down the streams when the anime has been licensed in America.
So you’ll notice me trying to aid in the cause to support the industries that I someday hope to be working in on the blog. Whenever I review something, I’ll be linking to places where the item can be purchased or watched (in the case of Netflix). If the game can be rented, I’ll provide a link to Gamefly. I will not ever provide links to torrents or illegal streams. If there are ever links to fansubs, they will only be for unlicensed anime.
I hope that you all will raise your Nerd flag proudly and support the industries whose products you consume. Someone worked hard to create that game you’re playing, that anime you’re watching, that book you’re reading. It’s only right that they be compensated for the work they’ve done.